Deep Dives Level Up Newsletters Saved Articles Challenges

Artist compares iconic sports moments to classical art and the results are hilarious

What does ice cream and fries, chocolate and bacon, and pineapples on pizza have in common? They are all polarising yet popular combinations that oddly fit together. Adding to this list is now art… and sports. Yes, you read that right.

With over 65,000 and 24,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram respectively, @ArtButMakeItSports is a digital artist who is bridging the gap between fine art and sports one meme post at a time. Matching seemingly-different disciplines, the creator seeks to provide a fresh perspective that appeals to enthusiasts of both worlds.

Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic comparisons @ArtButMakeItSports has made to date, shall we?

1. San Sebastián by Ricardo Motilla

2. The Assumption of the Virgin by El Greco

3. The Coronation of the Virgin by Luca Signorelli

LJ Rader, the man behind the accounts, is a sports analyst based in New York City with a great appreciation for art. Before the pandemic, Rader used to travel a lot for work and would spend an extra day or two in a city visiting its museums. Today, the enthusiast has reportedly amassed more than 5,000 pictures of artworks on his phone and has committed most to memory.

It is of no surprise that Radar then creates memes by flawlessly matching sports photography with classical works.

4. Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist by Benjamin West

5. Standing Ashura with Four Arms

To date, @ArtButMakeItSports has witnessed shares from big sports stars like Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks. Some of Rader’s followers also include Olympic athletes and former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players.

6. The Mocking of Christ by Carl Bloch

7. Apollo pursuing Daphne by Domenichino and assistants

Despite the popularity of his creations, however, Rader admitted that he doesn’t stand to gain much from them. “To use a sports phrase, I make these for the love of the game,” he told the Montana Kaimin newspaper.

8. Large Springtime by Tom Maley

9. Woman Carrying a Plate of Sweets (Qajar dynasty)

10. The Abduction of the Sabine Women by Nicolas Poussin

Upon a closer look at Rader’s mashups, the comparison between art and sports becomes obvious. Art, in its true essence, has always been about capturing figures in motion. In the same vein, sports involve figures in constant motion—waiting to be captured by audiences through a mix of media.

11. The Agony in the Garden by Andrea Mantegna

12. Bacchino della Crittogama by Giovanni Dupré

13. American Gothic by Grant Wood

Although Rader has previously gathered feedback advising him to stop comparing NBA star Devin Booker to Jesus, the artist has mostly witnessed positive responses to his work. “People have reached out and said ‘I didn’t have an appreciation of sports before’,” he told Sports Illustrated. “And vice versa, sports fans that reach out to say they want to talk about art through the account.”

At the end of the day, @ArtButMakeItSports is a breath of fresh air in the sports media universe.

14. Figures Dancing in a Circle from Los Disparates by Francisco Goya

15. Madonna in Prayer by Sassoferrato

So what are you waiting for? @ArtButMakeItSports is undoubtedly one of the most fun accounts to follow on both Instagram and Twitter today. Who knows, maybe you’ll come out of it feeling like an art scholar with a strong sense of visual literacy yourself!